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In the mood

Your menstrual cycle is a result of the relationship between three hormones – oestrogen, progesterone and luteinising hormone and will change at different stages of your life. Rude Health gets some health store advice on the best natural support available to you

Having periods and dealing with the health issues that occur around them can be a challenge for grown up women and for girls too. Many will visit their local health store for advice and support for bloating, cramping, breast tenderness, skin disorders such as acne, and also mood issues such as a lack of confidence, depression, anxiety and irritability.


“Women suffer mood swings mainly due to hormonal fluctuations and blood sugar imbalance and stress,” says Bernadette Cass from health store the Fruit ‘N Nut Place in Portlaoise, Co Laois. “They come into the store asking for advice on a host of issues including hot flushes or night sweats, mood, energy, anxiousness, sleeping poorly, weight gain, dry mucous membranes and dry skin.”

Other symptoms which may be experienced in this stage of perimenopause are irregular cycle, breast tenderness, vaginal dryness, loss of bone density, lack of libido and urinary tract disorders.

Hot flushes

“For hot flushes, night sweats and sleeping poorly we would always advise women to reduce their intake of alcohol, and rich foods like cheeses and sauces,” says Bernadette Cass. “They should cut down their sugar intake too as this makes the liver work harder. We recommend increasing water intake to at least 1.5 litres a day, and reducing tea and coffee intake. Freshly made carrot and beetroot juice is really helpful for the function of the liver. When the liver is working well the hot flushes and sleeping problems will improve.”

Energy levels

“To help your energy levels aim for a good balanced diet,” says Bernadette Cass. “Eat a range of fruit and vegetables, and nuts and seeds such as linseed which are wonderful for your hormonal balance and digestive system. Drinking less regular tea and coffee will reduce anxiety as B vitamins are destroyed when we drink these. Oats are a source of B vitamins, so we recommend these. For better sleep try eating a kiwi in the evening before bed and drinking herbal teas with mild sedative properties like chamomile, valerian and lemon balm.”

Mood swings

“B vitamins, magnesium, herbs like ashwagandha, rhodiola and passiflora are all good for mood swings,” says Bernadette Cass.

Other recommended mood swing helpers include:

Curcumin – a compound found in turmeric, is also known for its mood-boosting properties. Its anti-inflammatory effects can help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Magnesium – can help manage mood swings. It plays a critical role in brain function and has been found to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. It also helps regulate sleep.

Omega-3 fatty acids – help manage mood swings. They are essential for brain function and have been shown to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression.

Saffron – found to have antidepressant properties. Studies have shown that saffron can help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Vitamin B – plays a vital role in the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which are important for regulating mood.

Liver support

“Herbs that help support the liver are milk thistle, dandelion and turmeric,” says Bernadette Cass. “Remember, if the liver is working better, sleep will improve and hormones will be dealt with more efficiently by the liver.”

Natural hormonal support

  • B vitamins and ginseng can help you with energy levels.
  • Clary sage essential oil can be a great help for menstrual cramps as well as supporting the mood and emotions.
  • Herbal teas such as dandelion can help with hormone balancing and fluid retention.
  • Homeopathy and flower remedies can be very useful for dealing with these symptoms, though it can be useful to visit a practitioner as remedy selection is tailored to the individual.
  • Lifestyle changes such as gentle exercise, meditation, yoga, Pilates or t’ai chi can be helpful with the mental health aspects of PMS, and also with many of the physical symptoms.
  • Sage, dong quoi and red clover are good for hot flushes.
  • Valerian, hops, magnesium and ashwagandha will all help you to sleep better.
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